A recent survey finds most Canadians believe parents must be informed if their child wishes to change their gender identity at school — but opinions differ on whether parents should have a say in that decision.
The online survey of 3,016 Canadian adults, who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, asked respondents their policy preference when it comes to children changing their preferred name or pronouns at school.
The results, released on Monday, show that a plurality or 43 per cent agreed that parents must be informed and give consent if a child wants to change how they identify.
Another 35 per cent said parents should just be informed, while 14 per cent said this decision is “up to the child” and parents should not be informed or have a say.
Eight per cent of respondents were unsure or couldn’t say what their preference would be.
“Last week Saskatchewan joined New Brunswick in adopting a new gender and pronoun policy for schools, which would require parental consent for students who wish to change their preferred name or pronouns,” the survey from Angus Reid says.
“Vociferous debate has followed in both provinces, and a new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians, too, divided on what level of parental involvement is necessary when it comes to children’s preferred identification.”
PROVINCES INTRODUCE CONTROVERSIAL POLICY
New Brunswick became the first province to create a policy around parental consent if a child under 16 changes their preferred pronouns at school.
The provincial government later clarified the policy to allow school professionals, such as psychologists and social workers, to use a student’s preferred name and pronouns without parental consent.
Last week, Saskatchewan’s education minister announced a similar policy, sparking calls by some to reverse the decision. The Angus Reid survey took place in July, before the Saskatchewan government announced its policy.
On Monday, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce offered his thoughts on the issue.
“I think we understand though that parents must be fully involved and fully aware of what’s happening in the life of their children,” Lecce said, adding that educators are also “well versed” in situations where a child may be in potential harm.
“I mean, often there are health implications, and I think we have to respect the rights of parents and recognize that these can be life-changing decisions, and I think parents want to be involved so that they can support their kids. And I think that’s a really important principle that we must uphold.”
At the Conservative Party of Canada’s upcoming convention in Quebec City, members plan to debate a policy proposal to prohibit medical interventions for gender dysphoria in anyone under the age of 18.
YOUNGER PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO SAY PARENTS SHOULD HAVE NO SAY
Those between the ages of 18 and 24 were twice as likely compared to respondents overall — 28 per cent to 14 per cent — to say parents should not be involved in this decision.
The share of respondents who believe parents should not have a say decreases with age, falling to between 10 and 12 per cent among those 45 and older depending on the demographic.
Among the provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had the highest share of respondents who believed that parents must be informed and give consent at 50 and 49 per cent, respectively.
This figure falls to the low- to mid-40s for the other provinces, with the exception of Atlantic Canada, where only 34 per cent believed in both informing parents and getting their consent.
Respondents with children younger than 18 were more likely to say they would like to be informed and give consent at 48 per cent, compared to 41 per cent of those with no children younger than 18.
When it came to political leanings, 64 per cent of Conservative supporters believed that parents must give consent, compared to 30 per cent of Liberal supporters, 20 per cent of NDP supporters and 42 per cent of Bloc Quebecois supporters.
Broken down by education, 49 per cent of those with a high school diploma or less said parents should give consent, while 45 per cent of those with college or trade school and 34 per cent of people with a university degree or more agreed.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from July 26 to 31, 2023, among a representative randomized sample of 3,016 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by Angus Reid Institute.
With files from CTV News Saskatoon’s Josh Lynn and Noah Rishaug, CTV News Toronto Multi-Platform Writer Katherine DeClerq, CTV Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello and The Canadian Press